A Thankful Dust Bunny

Dust-Bunny-2

God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19 (NIV)

He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; he is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love.  He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever.  He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins,  for His mercy toward those who fear and honor Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.  He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him.  For he knows we are but dust  and that our days are few and brief, like grass, like flowers, blown by the wind and gone forever.  Psalm 103:8-13 (TLB)

God created the universe from nothing.

I don’t know if you have thought about it—I’ve been proud of some of my “creations.”  When I stop to look at what I’ve “made” I realize that I only re-arranged things.

Human beings lack the capacity to create. We are the great re-arrangers.

Is your mind racing? Are you trying to think of something you’ve created? OK. What did you create?

Was it a delicious masterpiece on yummy goodness? That’s a big part of Thanksgiving here in the US. Unless you had bare cupboards and produced a meal without any starting ingredients—you simply rearranged the ingredients into your tasty meal.

Do you have children? People talk about “creating a child.” It IS a miraculous process—one with so many steps it amazes me that any child is born. That child started with something—a sperm and egg had to come together. Once that occurs, DNA rearranges and that creates a new human.

Humans always have to start with something.

Do you feel small now—maybe not so grand and accomplished?

That’s OK.  Hopefully, it will make you thankful.

God, who can create something from nothing, wants to have a relationship with you!

God is pure, holy, powerful, loving, patient, forgiving, merciful—see He’s not like you and me at all. He remembers what He used to make His treasured masterpiece.

He remembers we are dust.

Superficially, that might make you feel puny and insignificant.   It should make you feel very loved and treasured.  It’s one of the things for which I’m most thankful.

My boss requires me to produce results. My patients expect me to give flawless, excellent care when they are sick. Those nameless faces expect me to adhere to a code of conduct and social structure. My spouse has expectations for me. The person looking back at me in the mirror checks for flaws with a magnifying glass.

God remembers I am dust.

When I fail, God’s ready to forgive—because He remembers I am dust.  When sin had me trapped with no hope of escape, God sent His Son to die in my place, to save me, the “dusty” sinner, from punishment. When I can’t count high enough to number the times I’ve done the thing that I promised I would never do again­—God is waiting for me to repent—waiting with love and not a grudge or the scolding wag of a condemning finger.  He knows my weakness, my frailties, my secret sin, the thoughts and feelings I would never share with another human—and His love for me is higher than the sky.

God remembers I am dust.

Father, in all my efforts to be good enough I’m thankful for the reminder that You remember that I am dust. It’s not that notion that makes me thankful—it’s that You remember I am dust and still You love me anyway. I can come to you “dusty” and I’ll always find Your loving arms open ready to embrace me. Thank You for not being like me. Thank You for Your love.

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Just Forget It!

broken coffee pot“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust Him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to Him.   John 3:16-18 (MSG)

“JUST FORGET IT!” then I heard the unmistakable sound of something clanking into the trashcan.

Terry’s exasperated words signaled the end of the project. Terry and I were trying to salvage a broken gadget. We fiddled. We re-wired. We tinkered. Then frustration set in. Nothing we tried worked—it was broken. It really wasn’t worth trying to fix—we wasted a lot of time and energy on a cheap gizmo. The gadget’s value didn’t warrant that amount of time, effort or emotion—but there we were—both mad and with nothing to show for the effort.

Have you done that? Have you tried to salvage something unsalvageable?

Imagine God’s quandary.

I hope that you’re familiar with the story. Make sure you know the whole story—it began before time. It’s outlined in Genesis. The important points are:

  • God created everything from nothing.
  • God’s creation was good.
  • God created man differently—He created man in His own image—man was very good.
  • God created humanity to have a relationship with Him.

Those are the starting points of the story. Adam and Eve had it made. They lived in paradise. Everything was good. Only one thing was off-limits.

Almost everything was not enough. Adam and Eve sinned. They chose their way over God’s way—as simple and direct as it was.

God’s perfect creation contaminated by sin began to show the signs of that contamination—physical death, pain, hardship and struggle became the norm.   You see, the one thing God refuses to control is humanity’s free will to choose or refuse a relationship with Him. When Adam chose his will over God’s plan, Adam earned his reward. As Adam’s descendants, you and I inherit his guilt.

As bad as the physical manifestations of sin are—the worst by far is the spiritual separation. Sin, brought spiritual death. Sin caused a separation between a holy God and sinful humanity. Humanity, imperfect because of sin, could not manufacture or conjure a perfect redeemer. There was no way to set the “account” straight—man was spiritually lost and physically limited.

God could have left it there. He could have tossed His creation aside and brushed the miserable dust from His hands.

He couldn’t.

God SO loved the world…

God’s love is so deep, so profound He couldn’t let go.

God SO loved the world…

that He gave His only Son…

That’s love! That’s the kind of love one could never repay—not with a thousand lifetimes and not a with flawless performance. That kind of love is only repaid with gratitude and love in return.

“Thank You,” just doesn’t seem like enough.

Father, Thank You for the love that sought me when I was despicable, when all I wanted was my own way, and when You were the last “person” on my list. Thank You for seeking me. Thank You for buying back with Your Son’s life—my life—the life that was created by You and Yours to begin with. Help me live a life of humble gratitude in response to the love You poured out at Calvary. Thank You for sending your Son as the perfect sacrifice.

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Giving Thanks

thanksgiving

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:  “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’  I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 (NLT)

In the US, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. I’m no longer sure I know what that means—and I’m not going to write about that. As I was pondering this week’s writing a parable Jesus told came to mind.

During November, and this week in particular, we Americans purposefully share what we are thankful for—posting it on Facebook, sharing it with friends and family. I am not going to disparage those folks; it’s a worthy exercise, especially in our culture.

I’m going to tell you what went through my mind as I began making my Thankful List.

I’m Thankful for:

  • My health
  • My husband
  • My home
  • My handsome gentleman, who is wonderful in every way, Ozzy. (For those new to my blog, my dog.)
  • My job—more so some days than others—but thankful nonetheless.
  • My church—since I was sitting in church while I was thinking about this, it seemed list-worthy.

Those six items came to my mind quickly. I felt a little empty. It’s then I thought about Jesus’ parable. Jesus summed up the point of His parable—humility. For some reason today, even though my thoughts were my own, I felt like the Pharisee in this story and not the tax collector.

I delight in my good health. I love my husband and dog. I am cozy in my home. I enjoy the benefits of my labor. I am at home in my church—I love it! Being thankful for those things makes me contemplate the lives of those who are ill, alone, poor or destitute materially or spiritually.

Certainly, the things on my list are good things—things I should be thankful for—but I couldn’t help thinking about times when I was sickly, single, financially broke, unemployed and I avoided church.

What was I thankful for then? Was I thankful?

The Pharisee brought all he had to God. It was his checklist of good deeds and admirable acts—it was what he did and the things he accomplished.  The tax collector came to God only for mercy.

Then it struck me.

Maybe that is what I need to give thanks for this year. While I am thankful for my accomplishments, my stuff and my station in life—perhaps the things I should be most thankful for are the gifts of grace, love and mercy from an amazing heavenly Father. Those things remain constant in an ever-changing world.  Your things and deeds don’t change God love and grace.  That should cause thankfulness to overflow.

So this week while I give thanks for all the things that bring me happiness—I’m going to look closer at the things that bring true joy—God’s gifts of grace, love, mercy.

Join me in looking at the things I can be truly thankful for since they are gifts—pure and simple—undeserved gifts of God’s mercy and grace.

You may not know God well enough to understand what grace is all about. That’s OK. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about God and I’m just starting to find out how amazing grace really is.

Whether you know God or not, if you feel like there is something just a little hollow in your Thankful List this year—join me. God wants to fill up your heart with His gifts. He wants you to receive His mercy.

If you aren’t sure you know the entire story, check out the link. It’s where we’ll begin tomorrow—God’s amazing plan to redeem His lost creation.

Father, thank you for all the things I’ve been blessed with, but mostly thank You for loving me completely, when there was nothing to love. Thank You for sending Your Son to die to make me holy in Your sight. Thank You for your grace, love and mercy that transcend any need I have in this life. This year, make me truly grateful.

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An Introspective Week

ozzy book

 

Yes, I exploited my little dog for the promo, again.  Doesn’t he look groggy in this picture!? It is early on a gray, rainy morning here in Iowa. We have not had our playtime yet, so this did catch him off guard! Don’t worry, he was rewarded for his efforts.

 

 

 

Here is the link to the Amazon page where you can find my books.

  • Ozzy’s book, A Clever Disguise is a 30-day devotional centered on Ozzy. It’s great for people who love dogs but might be put off by a traditional devotional. The message of grace is clear. It’s priced to buy multiple copies for gift giving!
  • The Books We Never Read is a 3-month devotional—and the BEST bargain. It’s a tour through the Old Testament books we rarely read; including Habakkuk, Ruth, Micah and a short overview of many OT books…the ones we never read.
  • Finding the Holy in a mundane world is my first book. It has 30 devotionals about knowing God, knowing Jesus, understanding grace, and some of the Do Commands (who wants to read of list of things NOT to do?).  It’s a great book for someone new to a walk of faith.

Don’t wait too long—CHRISTMAS IS 32 DAYS AWAY!!!  If you spend $35 you’ll get free standard shipping!!

Would you like to WIN a book?

I have a few books to give away and I’m giving them to the folks to talk to me.

Leave me a note! Once you read the post, scroll WAY down and you’ll find a spot where you can leave me a message. I would love to hear how YOU find the Holy in your mundane life. Simple is extraordinary. You’ll find a new depth of understanding if you write a thought. Share a bit of you with me, would you?

Those people who leave me a comment on Facebook or in the comment section of the post between today and midnight November 30th will entered in a drawing for one of my books. I’m choosing three winners—so let me know what you’re thinking. Perhaps you have a suggestion.

It’s your turn to write!

Once I choose the winners, I’ll contact you for your mailing address and ship the book to you!

Thanks to those who’ve left me messages, made suggestions and contacted me. You will never know how much I appreciate hearing from you!

There’s one more way to win!

You can have the daily post delivered to your inbox—no fuss, no muss.   All of the people on my list will be entered in a drawing. Three people will win one of my books!

The place to do that is just over to the right. No worries, your email address is safe with me!!

Subscribe to the email list by midnight November 30th and you’ll be entered to win!

Enough of this shameless self promotion!!

Here are the links for the past week. Be sure and come back tomorrow! Last week involved God’s “interview.” Last week was full of introspection—what does God want from me…  What place do I make for Him in my life… WOW! He really loves me a lot!

Certainly, the Get Out of Hell Free Card is an invaluable service.

If God asked you for a reference, what would you say?

What’s worse than waiting?

Have you ever had to repurchase something you got rid of?

What does Jesus want from you?

How have you stamped God’s application?

Let me hear from you! Subscribe to my email list. Enjoy your day and come back tomorrow we’ll spend next week getting ready for Thanksgiving—the great American holiday!

Accepting the Application

road-not-taken2Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)

When Jesus saw this, He said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!  In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?”

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow You.”

“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” Luke 18:24-30 (NLT)

I have a tendency to take over.  Honestly, I try not to.  Sometimes, I’m not successful. I can feel it well up in me. I do I try to hold it back—but often, before I know it—I hear myself giving directions, leading the discussion, or doing the demonstration.

That’s awful, isn’t it?

It doesn’t come from a mean intention, in fact, it usually begins when I see someone else struggling to lead. If the person leading is uncomfortable, I’ll try to help. The one good thing—maturity has made me more gracious in my attempt to help. I know I can steamroll over a person or situation so I try to be mindful of that.

So, after the interview and the reference check—are you ready to bring God on board—are you ready to hire Him?

Before you answer, let me share one more thing. This will not be your typical boss/employee relationship. Jesus made that clear in the verses above. “Hiring God” involves making Him the CEO of your life and taking on the position of a follower. God wants to take over your life—and it’s for your own good.

Maybe that is why so many balk at the opportunity.

Perhaps as God’s PR agents, we believers have not done our job. I know I have not always made the Christian life look appealing. The caricatures and stereotypes of Christians bear our failure—maybe that is why we find them so offensive. Most people don’t poked at God, most of them make fun of us. So, to ease the sting, we feel bad those unsaved people don’t understand there is a God who loves them. Without taking an introspective look at our advertisement.

How can nonbeliever understand unless we tell them and show them? Most unsaved people I know don’t read the Bible—when they do they don’t often understand its upside down principles.

Giving over control to someone else is difficult. Giving over control to someone you can’t see, who openly offers a cross to bear, who without any sugar-coating says, “You will suffer” —well, that is not appealing, at all. I can certainly see why so many people stamp “REJECTED” on the God’s application.

I know there are times; I’ve rejected God’s agenda for my life. If I, as a believer do it, why am I so shocked that a nonbeliever rejects God’s plan?

The disciples, who walked with Jesus in person, didn’t quite get it either—so let’s not feel too bad. Look at their response; we’ve given up everything to follow You.

Look at Jesus’ reply.

In both circumstances, Jesus offers the same reward to the follower. It is not ease. Jesus does not disclose the details of the plan, but the outcome—an eternal reward—well worth the sacrifice.

God, via Jesus offers a choice. As believers, I think we tend to think it’s a onetime choice. I must choose to follow Jesus every day.

On days when my plan causes my heart to pound with excitement, I must choose to follow Jesus. When the way is foggy and the path seems unclear, I must choose to follow Jesus. During the stretch when the path is rocky and forward progress is slow and painful, I must choose to follow Jesus.  When I am tired or injured and want to give up the walk, I must choose to follow Jesus.

The reward comes after following. The message of the Bible is exactly the opposite of what makes human sense—give up your life to gain it, let go of the things that are temporal to have hands ready to receive eternal things, and wait for the reward.

The words don’t make sense—so Jesus calls us to act it out.

As I write this, I’m forced to ask myself a question, so I’m going to ask you, too. Do others not follow Jesus because I’m standing still, simply telling them to follow Him?

How have you stamped God’s application?

Father, give the strength to follow Jesus. Help me follow so others will follow. Give me the strength when I want to quite. Give me the vision to look past today and see the hope of eternity. Give me grace when I take a wrong turn and guide me back to Your path for me!

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What Do You Really Want From Me?

now what

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”  The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. Luke 18:18-23 (NLT)

If asked to sum up the role of a circulating nurse in the operating room, using one, unceremonious, word—go-for. In the middle of the surgery when an instrument is dropped, I go-for another. When suddenly the procedure changes, I go-for the things needed. When we start with 10 sponges but need 15, I go-for the other five. It’s not glamorous, but as the unsterile person in the room. It’s my job and it’s important.

There are days when the plan changes, equipment is finicky or there seems to be extra gravity in the room and things end up on the floor; on those days I run a lot. It can be frustrating, since the go-for role is only one part of my job.   Some days as I reenter the OR from one run, I’m greeted with, “Can you get another retractor?” When I return with the retractor, someone has dropped the forceps, and it’s back to the storeroom. Returning with the forceps, the camera picture is fuzzy, or the printer is out of paper, or ink. Those days make me grumpy. There are times when I want to shout, “What else do you want before I leave, this time!?!” but I don’t. It’s what I do. It accomplishes the goal of helping the patient.

Luke tells the interaction between Jesus and the “Rich Young Ruler.” A young, affluent man came up to Jesus and asked, “What do you want from me?” His concern was about getting into heaven and he wanted to know what Jesus expected. He wanted to know what the “cost” was going to be. He came ready to tell Jesus what he had all ready done, he had kept all the laws Jesus mentioned. Presumably, he was willing to keep on doing that.

The young man wasn’t ready for the actual requirement.

Jesus’ answer was surprising. Jesus didn’t give him the thumbs up for his good behavior. In my mind I picture Jesus looking at him, squinting a bit, raising one eyebrow and saying, “Good. There is one more thing, sell all you have and give it to the poor, you’ll get your reward in heaven. Come, follow Me.” That answer made the man sad.

What did Jesus want? He didn’t want obedience based on the guy’s ability to keep the rules. It wasn’t the guy’s money, either. Jesus wasn’t the caricature of the TV evangelist telling the guy to sell everything he had and give it to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus wanted the guy to sell what he had, give the profit away and then follow Him.

Jesus wants us to follow. In John 10 Jesus refers to Himself as a Shepherd, The Good Shepherd. Sheep have nothing to give a shepherd. The shepherd is the one who provides the safety, the green pastures, and the cool water. The shepherd is the one who does the leading; the sheep are only expected to follow.

What does Jesus want from you? The only thing you can give Him, yourself. He wants you to follow Him. He wants your trust. The sheep don’t fret when they walk over a stony pasture with no grass to eat.   They follow. They don’t wonder if the shepherd knows what he’s doing when they can’t see the stream of cool water. They follow. Sheep don’t gather to talk and worry about how the shepherd is going to get them back to the barn. They follow.

Sheep trust the shepherd to take the paths that are the best. They trust the shepherd to lead them to the places that will benefit them. Sheep trust the shepherd to keep them secure from harm and to return them safely to a place a rest.

Sheep trust the shepherd and the shepherd takes care of the sheep.

Father today help me to listen for Your voice. Teach me to trust the path You have chosen. Remind me You know the way, we’ll get there together if I simply follow. Teach my ears to hear only Your voice. Teach me to abandon myself to Your way.

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Twice the Price

closetBut in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:21-24 (MSG)

Have you ever cleaned out a closet, drawer or cubby and felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment? I get into “purge mode” two or three times a year. During those times, I’m ruthless. Big piles of stuff make their way to charitable organizations that can use them.

That’s two or three days a year—what about the other 362 days?

On the other days, I’m sort of a pack rat. I, of course, blame my mom. I save many things to use again some other day. There is prudence in that behavior, to a point. At some moment, the unused stuff I’m saving becomes clutter. It’s then those things have to go!

This creates an odd and frustrating situation. Have you ever had to repurchase something you got rid of? That’s frustrating! Paying for something once is acceptable. Having to buy the same thing again is maddening.

As someone who shops at Goodwill, I’m pretty sure I’ve re-bought some of my own things. That means, I paid for one thing TWICE! That is the story of redemption Paul wrote about in the passage above. I like this definition of redemption better: the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him, or her to a better condition.

Paul explains there is no way we could live up to the demands of a Holy God. The Message uses some eloquent wording: we compiled a long and sorry record as sinners. Furthermore, we are incapable of being any different. That does sound dilapidated and in need of restoration.

Since we were helpless to be any different, God in His grace and generosity went ahead and took care of things for us. He gave us the gift of His Son to REDEEM us out of the mess we were in and restore us to the place He always wanted us to be in—right standing with Him.  We could not undo the wrong. We could not come to a Holy God in the corrupted state of sin.  So, God in love and mercy gave us GRACE: God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense.

The only thing you and I have to do is accept the gift – and be redeemed.

Father, Your love amazes me. In spite of the fact each one of us was created by You and rightfully Yours, when sin entered into the world, we were lost. You loved us so much You were unwilling to let us go, so you paid the price the second time to buy us back by sacrificing Your only Son. Thank you. My life in return is all I have to offer, but it’s Yours, twice-over.

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Wait…

Ozzy looking up

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)

Sit. Wait.

Those are 2 commands Ozzy knows. The “sit” part is easy. “Wait” is the command for Ozzy to stay. That is the more difficult of the 2 commands.   It’s interesting that “wait” is a difficult command even for a dog.

When I’m around my friends who express exasperation when their children misbehave, I chuckle and usually say, “Having a dog is so much better, you know, my dogs WANTS to please me unlike humans who want to please themselves.”

Still, “wait” is a difficult command for Ozzy. If I superimpose my human thoughts on Ozzy’s brain, I suppose it’s because he’s afraid he’ll miss out on something if he waits. Perhaps, he’s concerned I’ll never return and he’ll be endlessly waiting while I’m off having fun or treats.

All I know is “wait” is difficult.

Habakkuk began with a prayer. He got an unexpected answer. He rehearsed what he knew about God in his next prayer. Now, the waiting begins.

What’s worse than waiting? It’s painful not knowing what the outcome of a situation will be. It seems like you can’t make plans. Moving forward seems risky. You’re just waiting. Uggh!

Throughout scripture, God calls people to wait. So, when it happens to you, you are in good company. If you looked over the attributes of God from yesterday’s post; God is not malevolent.   God doesn’t make you wait just to watch you squirm.

Habakkuk, after reviewing the truth of God’s faithfulness, holiness, and power settles in to wait for the answer. It is with a determined resolve that Habakkuk waits. He still doesn’t understand what God is up to with Babylonians. Regardless of the circumstances, no matter how confounding the situation is, when no answer is forthcoming; waiting is easier if you are convinced of the truth of your Heavenly Father.

When the command is, “wait”, you can wait confidently, if you are convinced of the fact that God is working for your good. When God is silent, you can wait patiently if you know that God’s timing is perfect. When you can’t make sense of the events around you, rest assured, God is not surprised.   While you’re waiting, seek out God’s plan and act in your faith.

Wait….

Father, teach me to wait with expectant determination knowing that you are acting on my behalf to work out the best situation. When the puzzle is confusing, when it seems there are pieces missing, teach me to rely on you. Calm my heart. Quiet my mind.

***This devotion appears (slightly altered) in my new devotional book “A Clever Disguise” It is also in the book “The Books We Never Read” as part of the series on Habakkuk. Both books are available from Amazon.com***

 

A Good Reference

"I'd give you a list of references but no one will admit they know me."

Lord our Lord, Your name is the most wonderful name in all the earth! Psalm 8:9 (NCV)

 When I was in graduate school, one of the undergrad students asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her. She was applying for a summer research project. She was a terrible student. She was able to memorize all the facts but was unable to apply them in the simplest of scenarios. She routinely missed class and lab.

I tried to explain to her that she should get a letter of recommendation from a tenured professor not a teaching assistant.

She persisted.

Trying to soften the blow, I explained to her how the system worked and that a letter from a teaching assistant would worth anything.

She persisted.

Hoping she would take the hint, I told her she didn’t want me to write a letter for her.

She persisted.

Finally, I wrote a letter for her detailing her inability to apply the knowledge she so easily memorized and her sketchy attendance.

She was not accepted for the summer internship.

 

Picking the correct reference is an important part of the job interview process. If God ever had to give a reference, I’m sure He would pick king David.

When picking a reference, it’s important to pick someone who knows you, appreciates your skills and abilities and possesses the ability to share that knowledge.

David knew enough about God’s character and His deeds to write and sing about them. Throughout the Psalms, David outlines God’s good deeds, mercy, patience, justice, kindness, support and His love. Sometimes David gushes. David gives voice to those who might find themselves speechless trying to explain God’s greatness.

What about you?

If God asked you for a reference, what would you say?

I’ll admit it, the reference I’ve given to the world has not always been consistent. Sure, I’ve always called myself a Christian but I haven’t always offered up the best reference for the One I say I love. Looking back over my life I’ve provided the following references for God:

  • My worry told others that I think God really can’t be trusted to take care of me.
  • My rebellion told the world that I think my plans were better than God’s loving plan for my life.
  • My apathy told the world that I feel God isn’t worth a whole-hearted love.
  • My disregard for those who don’t know about God’s love gives others the impression that God love and grace aren’t worth acknowledging.

I’ve given God many references during my life. I’m sad to say some of them are not shining representations of my glorious, gracious, loving, heavenly Father. Even now, there are moments when I ignore an opportunity to give God the reference He deserves.

As I read the Psalms, I have to check my attitudes and actions.

David knew something. It was something worth singing about. He knew a God who was rich in mercy, love and grace. He knew a God who was powerful and amazing. David knew a God who cares about His creation and intervenes on humanity’s behalf. He knew a God who was just but forgiving. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible—no wonder—it’s a resounding praise of a God who is worthy to be praised.

If you are like me, and can look back at times in your life when you weren’t providing the best reference for a God who deserves the best.  Start today.  God is merciful, gracious and patient. He is a God of second, third and fourth chances!

If you don’t think you know enough about God to give a reference, look around you, He’s woven Himself into His creation. Look into His word, the Bible, and you’ll find the story of a God so in love with His creation, that He offered the sacrifice to redeem His fallen masterpiece.

Ask God to reveal Himself to you—He’s waiting to be found!

Father, thank You that Your love for me didn’t change when my reference for You was poor. Help me fall deeper in love with You. Reveal Yourself to me. Help me tell Your story of love to those who don’t know You.

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What Can You Offer?

what

And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:6-21 (NLT)

My least favorite question to answer in an interview is, “What do you like to do in your free time?” I like to eat snacks, take naps and watch TV. That is what I LIKE to do. My free time quickly fills up with obligations that mock the designation free time. None of those things really matter in a job interview unless I’m applying for a position as, housekeeper, gardener or dog groomer.

I do a lot in my free time but little of it seems relevant to a job interview. I always fear that, if I begin talking about what I do in my free time, the prospective employer will consider me unfocused and rambling.

Akin to that question is the question, “What can you bring to this position?” I know that in an interview, my job is to sell myself, still it’s difficult for me to answer this question. Perhaps, it’s because I don’t want to over sell myself and make some tacit commitment to do more than I really want to do.

For the job as Lord of your life, how would God answer the question, “What do you bring to this position?”

Certainly, the Get Out of Hell Free Card is an invaluable service. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled the blood of Jesus paid the debt of sin that I couldn’t pay with my good works. (If you have never accepted that gift, do it—do it today! )

The question remains, what can God do for me, today: Monday, November 17th?

Paul reveals God’s previously mysterious plan. God gives the believer an inheritance. That’s good, but it implies, once again that it’s something the believer must wait for—on the surface it seems like we are back to square one.

Christ died. Christ earned the inheritance. God’s mysterious plan is His inclusion of you and me in Christ’s inheritance. It’s an inheritance we don’t have to wait to claim.

God’s love—that’s what He brings to the position.

Remember God’s application—He’s not like you! His love is not wishy-washy. God’s love is not dependent on your performance. God’s love is not like your love—it’s not about what He can get out of it—it’s about what He can do for you.

How would your life be different if someone who had infinite power unconditionally loved you?

Would you experience peace? Would you be bold? Would it make you more loving? Would you want to share that with everyone around you?

You are loved—completely, fully, deeply, eternally. That is not a trivial activity—God loves you infinitely!

That love can accomplish more than you can even image—here, now and eternally.

Father, thank you for the reminder that I am loved. Help me show Your love to those around me. Teach to me act in Your love. Let me feel and understand the security Your love provides me, TODAY.

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